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Colombia Colombian mines. The country also produces and exports substantial amounts of nickel, an alloy metal best recognized in the nickname for the 5-cent U.S. coin (which is 75 percent copper!). Columbia also has small deposits of iron ­ore. Possessing adequate energy sources is essential to any county’s economic growth and cultural development. Colombia is fortunate in that it has adequate supplies of mineral fuels and excellent hydroelectric potential. In the latter context (think of water as a mineral), it ranks second in all of Latin America. If harnessed, Colombia could be a leader in clean, inexpensive, hydroelectric energy. The country has numerous streams, with a reliable ­year-­round flow, that plunge from high elevations. In order to be dammed (harnessed), however, a stream must flow through a deep enough valley or gorge for a dam to be keyed (secured) on both sides. This type of land feature is widespread throughout much of the western half of the ­country. Although not a major producer by global standards, Colombia is one of the few countries in all of Latin America that is ­self-­sufficient in energy resources. It shares with Brazil the distinction of having the largest coal reserves in all of Latin America. Production is centered in the Guajira Peninsula. Most of the coal is bituminous, having less than one percent sulfur content, which makes it fairly clean burning. Production, much of which is exported, has doubled during recent years. With more than 7 billion tons of proven reserves, coal will be an important Colombian export for decades to come. The country also has petroleum and natural gas deposits. It ranks fifth among South American countries in proven oil reserves. Most production comes from the eastern Andean foothills or the eastern lowlands. About half of the oil is exported, most of it to the United States. Production has declined since 1999, but Colombians are optimistic that once the civil conflict ceases, new deposits will be discovered and brought into production. The country also has large supplies of natural gas, an energy source in which it is self-­sufficient.


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